2012 Holberg International Memorial Prize Recipient

Founders Park
May 3, 2012
By C. L. Max Nikias

I am delighted to welcome you all here to this reception recognizing University Professor Manuel Castells, who brought great honor to USC when he was named the recipient of Norway’s 2012 Holberg International Memorial Prize.

In receiving the Holberg International Memorial Prize, Manuel joins a small, elite group of scholars. Bestowed by the Board of the Ludvig Holberg Memorial Fund, this prestigious prize, which comes with a $775,000 award, recognizes outstanding scholarly work in the fields of the arts and humanities, social sciences, law, and theology.

In acknowledging his extraordinary contributions, the Holberg Prize Academic Committee noted, “Manuel Castells is the leading sociologist of the city and new information and media technologies. His ideas and writings have shaped our understanding of the political dynamics of urban and global economies in the network society.”

In a rapidly changing world, Manuel’s research has also enabled us to grasp how social and political movements evolve together with emerging information technologies.

The Holberg Prize is named after Ludvig Holberg, the 18th-century Norwegian professor, writer, and philosopher. Holberg held the Chairs of Metaphysics and Logic, Latin Rhetoric, and History at the University of Copenhagen, and he played a vital role in bringing the Enlightenment to Nordic countries.

I can think of no one more fitting to win the Holberg Prize than Manuel, who shares many striking similarities to the namesake of this remarkable award.

Like Ludvig Holberg, Manuel is a uniquely interdisciplinary thinker. If there is a thread that runs through his works, it is one that skillfully weaves a tapestry of the interplay of communications, technology, sociology, politics, and policy in modern societies.

Holberg was also a prolific writer, and he is considered the father of modern Danish and Norwegian literature. Today, Manuel is the father of modern communication writings.

In addition to his impressive list of books and academic articles, his monumental trilogy, The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture, has been translated into nearly 20 languages. Beyond the quantitative nature of his body of work is the authoritative: Manuel is widely regarded as the most cited communication scholar.

In addition, Holberg was an extensive traveler whose journeys were a central part of his work as an academic and author. From Madrid to Montreal, and Singapore to Santa Clara, Manuel has lectured in academic institutions worldwide.

And just as Holberg brought the Enlightenment to his region of the world, Manuel has done much to enlighten others and help them understand the dynamic and complex world around them. The overarching thrust of his works has been the analysis of power in the Information Age. And through his research and scholarship, he has empowered all of us.

The university is incredibly proud of Manuel’s many achievements. Please join me in congratulating him on winning the 2012 Holberg International Memorial Prize.

And now, Manuel, on behalf of the University and in recognition of your incredible achievements, I would like to read the text of this special resolution that we created just for you:


WHEREAS University Professor Manuel Castells has brought tremendous honor to the University of Southern California, as he has received Norway’s 2012 Holberg International Memorial Prize, a singularly prestigious award that recognizes outstanding scholarly work in the arts and humanities, social science, law, and theology; and

WHEREAS this exceptional award reflects the far-reaching influence of Professor Castells’ pioneering work, as well as his celebrated standing as the most cited communication scholar in the world; and

WHEREAS in awarding this prominent prize, the selection committee recognized Professor Castells as “the leading sociologist of the city and new information and media technologies”; and

WHEREAS while Professor Castells’ career has been both illustrious and lengthy, it is noteworthy that the prize committee recognized his more recent scholarship, thereby honoring work he has completed entirely during his tenure at USC; and

WHEREAS in addition to his distinguished appointments in both communication and sociology, Professor Castells holds the Wallis Annenberg Chair of Communication Technology and Society, a highly impressive appointment that speaks to the stellar scope of his scholarship; and

WHEREAS USC has honored Professor Castells’ significant contributions to several disciplines, designating him as a University Professor, a distinction reserved for a select group of scholars whose work has broad, multidisciplinary reach, and whose authority stretches across numerous fields; and

WHEREAS throughout his superb career, and in testament to the prolific nature of his scholarship, Professor Castells has produced 22 academic books, edited or co-authored 21 additional books, and contributed more than 100 articles to academic journals; and

WHEREAS his most recent work, Communication Power, rigorously examines power and the dynamics of communications in the modern world, drawing particularly strong praise from the prize committee for its remarkable prescience; and

WHEREAS Professor Castells has lectured in more than 300 academic institutions in 46 countries around the world and, prior to joining USC’s faculty, held appointments at the University of California at Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Santa Clara University, and Oxford University, in addition to a current appointment at the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain; and

WHEREAS Professor Castells has been awarded 14 honorary doctorates from universities in 11 different nations, and has won medals of honor from five governments; and

WHEREAS among his many other eminent honors, Professor Castells has earned a Guggenheim Fellowship, the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems, Spain’s National Prize of Sociology and Political Science, and the Erasmus Medal from the Academia Europaea; and

WHEREAS in awarding the Holberg Prize, the selection committee noted that Professor Castells’ “ideas and writings have shaped our understanding of the political dynamics of urban and global economies in the network society,” adding that he “has illuminated the underlying power structures of the great technological revolutions of our time and their consequences”;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that for his groundbreaking contributions as a world-renowned communication scholar, and as he receives the 2012 Holberg International Memorial Prize, the University of Southern California is proud to honor the outstanding and numerous accomplishments of University Professor Manuel Castells.


Thank you, Manuel. Our university is incredibly fortunate to have such a visionary and insightful thinker in its professorate. And we are incredibly proud of the recognition he has received for his pioneering work today, and we look forward to his enlightening contributions tomorrow.